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Do fretless basses need louder amps?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Andy Daventry, Dec 1, 2000.


  1. After the lined/unlined controversy, I thought this might be a fun one.

    I have owned three fretless basses in my life...a Fender P (which rapidly became the much loved FRETTED P that has been my main gigging bass for the past 14 months), a wshburn XB something or other that I put some SD vintage pups onto and then sold, and my current Rob Allen.

    I have owned a number of fretted basses...a '64 Jazz, a Stu HAmm, a '96 P bass, an '83 Squier P that I very mistakenly PJ'ed (rule for happiness...NEVER PJ a P bass) another washburn XB something or other (a different one from the fretless).

    I have played all these basses through a variety of amplifiers and have some to the conclusion that you need a louder amp to be heard on fretless than fretted. I put this down to the slower attack on fretless.

    Ideas? Opinions? Sneers and ribald comments?

    Andy
     
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I think you just need some EQ to compensate for the lack of frets. The string hitting the metal fret adds a certain tone to the note that is missing on the fretless. Try boosting around 800 Hz and the fretless will sudenly seem just as loud.
     
  3. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    It would depend on the fretless. Mine is active and pretty loud. I use all of my basses with the same amp and don't need to turn up for fretless.

    That wasn't too ribald was it;)

    Besides, there was no controversy here, just a discussion:D
    Not like some places.
     
  4. Hey guys, IMHO one of the reasons I play fretless is
    because I love Jazz, and when you get into Jazz, I mean
    Quartet type Jazz, all of a sudden volume isn't as important
    as other types of music.To me if you have to turn up a 1-15
    100 watt combo past 5 on the volume, it's too loud for me,
    plus then you sometimes get "volume contests" amongst other
    players; You know what I mean?

    Mike J.
     
  5. M. Jewels, Embellisher will love you! Playing electric in a standard jazz quartet? You must be subverting the dominant paradigm!
     
  6. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    I think I agree with Andy. I think the reason is twofold: the string vibration on a fretless is both damped by the fingertip and limited by the setup -- that is, if you're going for the growl. Low setups prevent big string vibration on both fretted and fretless.

     
  7. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Hmmmmmm. Never noticed. Hence, I don't think so. Lessee, what're those letters ... uuhhhhhmmmm ... oh yeah ... YMMV.
     
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Dude, my fretless is loud...it's probably one of my loudest basses, next to the L2000E. And the setup is low.
     
  9. maestrox

    maestrox

    Oct 8, 2000
    I must concur. My Zon Lightwave fretless is louder than any of my other basses I currently have. Maybe it's just a hot preamp, but it seems to cut better and sit just right in the mix.

    Perhaps the magic of a Zon neck and no frets....
     
  10. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Of course, my statement should have included the caveat "all other things being equal". If you have two identical basses with identical strings and identical electronics, and the fretless is set up low for growl and the fretted is set up higher, then I stand by my earlier opinion -- you're gonna get less output from the fretless.

    Nothing a few kilowatts won't fix, of course...

     
  11. alx564

    alx564

    Jul 31, 2000
    Emmaus, PA
    I use the same amp for my fretless as I do for my fretted. I don't think you really need a louder amp. Just adjust the EQ a little.
     
  12. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    my fretless 8 string is a roaring tiger - loudest bass i have - 18v preamp + musicman style pickup = ROAR!

    i've heard many fretless players that i wished had quieter amps, but that wasn't due to the instrument, but rather user error :eek:
     
  13. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    And you prove my point -- the electronics are hotter than those in your fretted basses.

     
  14. Matthias

    Matthias

    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    With fretless basses you need to press the string to the fingerboard MUCH harder than with a fretted bass to get proper intonation and a full sound.
    So if you play the fretless in the same way as a fretted bass, I believe you will get less volume (anything else being equal). But since I don't have a fretless (just an upright) I don't know for sure, it's a guess.

    Matthias

     
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    The lowest action I have on any of my basses is on my fretless. It requires very little effort to play...and it's still one of my loudest basses when I play it that way.

    How many observations here are actually based on playing a fretless? Just curious... some of these generalizations are pretty interesting.
     
  16. Not a lot. I just owned my fretlesses. I never said I played them!

    :D
     
  17. And if anyone says I did say I played them, I'll demand a recount!
     
  18. To Brad J. I play fretless, although I,m not a volume
    freak.I think what a lot of guys might be getting confused
    about is: With the same bass, one fretted one not, played through the same amp, settings, room, etc., the fretted
    would seem louder due to the fret noise.IMHO fretless sounds
    deliciously smoother.Less ear fatigue.Kinda like listening
    to a regular radio, then a Boze Wave radio.Just my thoughts.
    Mike J.
     
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I know what you (and they ;)) mean, Michael. My point is, unless you set the amp to accentuate fret noise, IME one really isn't louder than the other. Depending on what is is... I mean loud is, I've been able to get the same throbbing, thunderous lows with either. Massive, pounding lows...

    I need a cigarette
     
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    You know I didn't mean you, Andy. I meant the "other guys".
    :D